Curious about website merchandising and how it can help your online business reach new levels of success? Read on to learn the basics from a Volusion expert.
You may have heard the term “website merchandising” floating around, but may be unsure of what it means or how to apply its principles to your online store. Never fear! We sat down with Volusion’s Website Merchandising Manager, Nathan Stull, to get expert insights into why web merchandising is such an important aspect of growing your online business.
What is website merchandising, anyway?
The customer is always right. Content is king. In short, web merchandising is the marriage of those two mantras in order to sell or convert more online. It’s a combination of online practices that businesses and stores use to reach more people and convert more browsers into buyers.
Website merchandising starts by considering your products and users. It ends with the confirmation sales receipt email to your customer. Depending on what you sell and who you sell to, the length of time between those two steps varies. The end goal is to make that length of time shorter, and more frequent, by building trust with your audience.
What are some of the most important aspects of web merchandising?
Just like having the right billboard on the right highway to promote your store, web merchandising requires some foresight.
- Know your customers: Why would they come to your store? How do they find you? What are they doing on your site? What are they trying to do on your site?
There are several ways to get these answers. A good test is to pretend to be your typical website user. Try, from start to finish, to complete the most common tasks on your site. Is it a purchase? Is it to ask a question? Evaluate the experience for these tasks and identify any areas of improvement. If you aren’t sure, test it first.
Once you have a clearer picture of your audience, you’ll see some patterns that can help them. When someone buys Product A, they’ll most likely need to clean it with Product B. Promote Product B on the Product A page, and vice versa. Strategic promotion works a lot better than random, generic banners.
- User Experience: Each page should have primary and secondary calls to action. Identify those and build around them. Try to keep it simple.
A few questions to ask yourself are: Is the navigation well organized or too convoluted? Are the colors working for your audience? What are the most common devices they use to access your store, and is that also a good user experience?
Most of these answers can be found through your analytics and user testing. By knowing your primary and secondary calls to action, you can look at the numbers and see how they’re performing. Often times, you’ll find an area of improvement. Maybe it’s changing your color palette or navigation label. These small changes can help your audience reach their goal and help you increase your sales.
- Search: The old mantra stands: Location, location, location. For online, location = search term.
The most important aspect of search is being relevant. Also, with organic search it’s not about immediate results. Consider the search terms that users enter to find your product —not your store. It’s not about being at the top of the first results page for your store name. You can optimize your site all day long for that, but most likely customers are using a different term and won’t find you by searching for your name.
For more consistent search placement, consider paying for search engine marketing.
- Social Media: There are two angles to social that can pay off for you.
First, you want to let your customers talk about you. Make sure your sharing capabilities are enabled. Let them brag about the product they just bought on your site.
Second, you want to engage your followers. You’ll learn a lot from them directly. And as you treat them with respect, they’ll be more loyal to you.
Hungry for more information on website merchandising? Feel free to post questions in the comments section below, and stay tuned for part two of our series with Nathan, where we’ll discuss prioritization of web merchandising aspects, as well as common mistakes merchants can make when plunging into merchandising online.